My mom often implores, “Chloe, I wish you were here! I want to be creative like you. I get so bogged down with menu planning. How do you figure out what you’re going to buy when you get groceries?”
You may have the same questions as my wonderful mom, Cathleen. You may wonder how to enjoy flavorful meals using basic, simple ingredients and how to re-purpose ingredients left over from one dish or menu for something else. In this post you will learn how to 1. Make shopping easy!, 2. Use the same ingredients for two dishes with distinct flavors, and, in so doing 3. Extend the value of your purchases by eliminating waste.
1. Make shopping easy!
a. Start with vegetables – they can be the foundation of such an amazing variety of meals.
b. Buy seasonally. Choose the freshest, local veggies you can find.
c. Go for both the familiar and the exotic. Try something new once a week.
d. Don’t worry about how you’re going to prepare them – yet. Just have fun, enjoy the beauty, and choose a rainbow of colors!
2. Use the same ingredients for two dishes with distinct flavors, and, in so doing 3. Extend the value of your purchases by eliminating waste.
For today’s example, we’re using cabbage and carrots – simple, inexpensive, and very healthful veggies that are quite versatile.
a. Recipe 1 – using leftover vegetarian sweet and sour soup with tofu and bean sprouts (from Vietnamese restaurant Golden Flower in Chinatown) as a base, add steamed cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes for a nourishing and flavor-packed meal packed with veggies.
b. Recipe 2 – Indian stir fry with Sambar powder
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 white onion, cut into moons
2 cups cabbage, chopped in 1-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/8th inch slices at an angle
3 small – medium yellow potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
sambar powder to taste
3 green onions, both white and green parts, chopped finely
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup white and red quinoa, mixed together and cooked (optional)
Please note – all measurements are approximate. (I cook intuitively and try to remember how much I used when I’m writing this down.) Please adjust to your taste.
Heat the coconut oil in your favorite stir-frying pan. At the same time, prepare the quinoa using your preferred method. Add the mustard seeds once the oil is sizzling. After a minute or so, reduce the heat and add the white onion and cook for a minute to two. Then add the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes and a few splashes of water as necessary. Cover and cook until the veggies are tender but not overdone. Add sambar powder – a little at a time. Keep tasting until it is right for you.
Add the cooked quinoa and garnish with green onions and currants. Ah, wow, this is good! It’s even better the next day as leftovers.
So, there you go – two completely unique meals featuring ethnic flavors with simple veggies as foundational elements.